Page 1 - New England Condominium May 2021
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Universal Design & the ADA 
Design for Every Body 
May 2021 
out New England as well. “It was the brainchild of a working group  
of architects, product designers, engineers, and environmental design  
researchers led by Ronald Mace at North Carolina State University.  
Universal Design is the design and composition of an environment  
so that it can be accessed, understood, and used to the greatest extent  
possible by all people regardless of their age, size, and ability. It is a  
fundamental process of good design.”  
205 Lexington Avenue, NY, NY 10016 • CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED 
continued on page 8  
Interior Design  
Responds to COVID 
Flexibility, Technology, 
Nature, & Gratitude 
Using Color to  
Create Mood and  
Make a Statement 
Your Palette Makes a  
Th  e idea that ‘form follows function’ is one of the basic concepts underlying nearly every  
design discipline—but function for whom? For many people living with disabilities, it oft en  
seems that ‘function’ covers a very narrow range of ability—rendering many forms clumsy at  
best, and completely useless at worst. While a cascading stairway might provide drama to a  
public space, for example, it may present an insurmountable obstacle to anyone making use of  
a wheelchair or other mobility aid.  
While in the past accessibility for diff erently-abled individuals may have been an af- 
terthought (if it was a thought at all), in recent years, architects and designers have begun  
to change their view of how to best achieve form and function for everyone, regardless of  
age or ability. Two key drivers of that change were the adaptation of the theory of Univer- 
sal Design, and the passage and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act  
Universal Design 
“Universal Design was developed in 1997,” says Eric Cohen, senior associate principal at Ethe- 
lind Coblin Architect, an architecture and design fi rm based in New York with clients through- 
As the biggest global health crisis of mod- 
ern times continues to impact the world, it  
leaves a wake of changes to the way we live,  
eat, work, play, learn, plan, and even how we  
dream. Humans—a species well-known for  
our adaptability—are fi nding ways to adjust  
our lifestyles to this new environment.  
In many cases, however, we are adjust- 
ing our environments to suit these new life- 
styles—and no one knows more about the  
trend than interior designers. In speaking  
to many who work in multifamily build- 
ings throughout the Northeast, as well as in  
the Chicagoland area, the common refrain  
among interior experts was how busy they’ve  
been in the last year-plus. Whether carving  
out space in private homes to accommodate  
remote working and schooling, or reimagin- 
ing common areas to allow co-op and condo  
residents to enjoy amenities safely, interior  
designers have been hard at work using their  
skills and imaginations to adapt our living  
environments to the post-COVID reality. 
Flexibility Is Key 
Across the board, interior designers work- 
ing in residential buildings express the need  
for fl exibility in domestic spaces. Especially  
in urban areas where vertical living domi- 
nates, many homeowners can’t expand their  
footprint due to having neighbors above, be- 
low, and next door in all directions. Recon- 
continued on page 9 
Design is what makes the diff erence be- 
tween a space looking like a seductive bou- 
doir… or the interior of a cardboard box.  
Neither may be appropriate for a condo or  
co-op lobby, but somewhere in between lies  
the comforting, welcoming common space  
we hope to encounter when we arrive home.  
Th  e key to creating that welcome lies largely  
in the use of basic elements of color, texture,  
and light.  While all three interlock to create  
a unifi ed, coherent aesthetic, color is at the  
heart of the puzzle. 
Defi ning Color & Palette 
“Words are always a challenge for design- 
ers to describe when seeking to create a spe- 
cifi c mood,” says Marilyn Sygrove, principal  
of Sygrove Associates Design Group, based  
in New York City. “One person’s ‘dark’ is an- 
other person’s ‘rich.’ One person’s ‘light and  
bright’ is another person’s perceived mainte- 
nance nightmare. So we have to be sensitive  
to the perceptions of our clients. It is all about  
balance, and selectively choosing what can  
be used eff ectively, and where. Accent walls,  
fl oors, a piece of furniture, a desk are also to  
be weighed against wear and visual impact.” 
 A community’s population can heavily  
infl uence its color preferences; so can its loca- 
tion. “Beachfront condominiums in Brook- 
lyn and Long Island like to reference water- 
colors and sunsets,” says Sygrove. “Urban  
communities generally like more edgy com- 
binations, or subtle neutrals with deep, rich  
contrasts. We are defi nitely seeing colors that  
refl ect a ‘sense of place’ refl ecting the geogra- 
phy surrounding the property, whether parks  
or riverfronts, especially in special setbacks  
with respect to their landscaping.”  
Ethelind  Coblin,  architect  and  principal  
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